The government has yet to complete the review for approving abortion pills for sale in South Korea, despite the process having begun last year, sparking the criticism at the related authorities’ lukewarm attitude.
The conflict over introducing the abortion pill began since the Constitutional Court’s decision in April 2019, which ruled a ban on abortion unconstitutional. The National Assembly should have revised the related law by the end of 2020, but the discussion has not seen any progress.
Walking on a thin line between legal and illegal, more women are looking for ways to get abortion pills on online black markets.
Hyundai Pharm signed an exclusive contract with Linepharma International to market Mifegymiso and filed an application to gain approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in July 2021.
Although it has been more than a year since the application was filed, the ministry is still reviewing whether to approve Mifegymiso after requesting additional data.
When asked about the application process at a parliamentary audit of the Health and Welfare Committee on Friday, Minister of Food and Drug Safety Oh Yu-kyoung said that the ministry is still examining the drug, according to civic groups on Sunday.
When Rep. Nam In-soon of the Democratic Party of Korea asked for the details of the process, Oh replied: "As a regulatory body, we are reviewing the safety, validity and quality of the pill, and we are examining supplementary documents submitted from the company."
Civic groups are urging the authorities to speed up the procedure to secure women's health, claiming that a prolonged delay in the abortion pill’s approval will lead more and more women to purchase unsafe drugs through irregular channels.
Rep. Suh Jung-sook, a lawmaker of the ruling People Power Party, also urged a quick resolution in the parliamentary audit.
"We should not neglect the issue of the abortion pill, considering the pharmaceutical company’s position and women's health rights. We need open discussions and transparent reviewing procedures," Suh said.